Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The CR-V has a nice ride height that makes it easy to step into. The power driver seat is adjustable and our tester featured leather seating. The seat had a very weird “ridge” in the bottom cushion that was directly under my derriere and made it extremely uncomfortable after sitting in the car for more than 5 minutes. I’m hoping this is specific to the tester, but the ridge is right under a seam in the leather, so I’m not sure this is the case, unfortunately.
The steering wheel is wrapped in leather and felt pretty good, and the controls for cruise control, radio, phone and voice commands are easy to learn and use. The instrument panel is very basic and clean. The gear shifter is mounted on the dash, giving you ground clearance between the driver and front passenger seats. Climate control buttons and dials are fairly logical and easy to use.
The cool USB Audio Interface is above the glove compartment and hides your iPhone or MP3 players well out of sight. However, if there is one disaster about the interior of the CR-V, it is the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System/audio controls touch screen interface in the dashboard. It folds up at the push of a button to reveal the CD slot and DVD slot for the SATNAV system, which is pretty cool to see in action. But it also features a dizzying array of tiny buttons all around the touch screen that controls either the nav system or audio or system info. These are really hard to read and use while you’re driving, and the entire unit is positioned in an angle away from the driver so that it requires you to reach forward uncomfortably to access it.
The user interface on the touch screen unit is even more of a disaster than the tiny physical buttons around the screen. The design looks like it’s from 1985. The interface touch buttons, menus, and graphics are too busy and simply offensive to anyone with a sense for elegant design. It is hard to decipher even when you pull over to the side of the road and stop the CR-V. The entire unit looks like an aftermarket add-on that your buddy’s cousin’s best friend put in your car back in high school. It packs a lot more technology, of course, but it feels dated. The rest of the interior design also feels dated and you won’t be surprised if someone told you this car was built in the 1990s.
The CR-V starts at just above $21k, but our 4WD EX-L tester with all the options topped out at around $30k. This is comparable to its closest competitors, such as the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and the Hyundai Tucson, although Hondas generally do have better resale values.
A Solid Compact Crossover
You have a lot of choices nowadays in the compact crossover segment. The 2011 Honda CR-V is neither the best deal nor the best-equipped. It is certainly not the prettiest or the most exciting to drive. It does offer decent power and handling, and good cargo space, as well as options like a rearview camera. But you can get that with the myriad other compact crossover SUVs out there and you can get a lot more style for the same money. If your mind is set on a Honda for its reputation of reliability and resale value, however, you may want to wait just a few more months for the brand new 2012 CR-V. I saw a leaked sketch of it and it looks a lot more exciting than the current one.